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Saturday, 27 August 2011 12:00 AM

The Week (& Condé Naste) August 2011

This Weeks’s Dream – Desert and Mountains in Southern Morocco

The Week – August 2011

Original full article - the Condé Naste Traveller Article –Secrets of the South by Laura Fowler, September 2011 edition

A road trip into Morocco’s deep south will take you far off the tourist trail, says Laura Fowler in Condé Naste Traveller – across wild mountains and through sleepy, ancient towns to the fringes of the Sahara. Setting out from the popular coastal resort of Agadir, the first stop is Taroudant, a little-visited city “enclosed in centuries-old walls”. In the evenings its central square teems with men listening to musicians and storytellers, and its Sunday market is “the real deal” – villagers flock from miles around to buy and sell oranges, mint, saffron and livestock (goats cost £30, camels upways of £1,000).

From Taroudant, a road climbs up into the Anti-Atlas mountains, past green terraces “crinkly-edged with dry stone walls “, almond trees heavy with pink blossom in springtime, and Berber villages where women sit in the doorways of their mud huts shelling nuts. As you go higher, the scenery is “bigger and barer” – “great folds of red-rock mountains” with dramatically exposed strata. On the far side, in a “palm-filled” valley, lies the town of Tata, where an ancient water clock is still in use. Tourists can stay in the restored Kasbah of Dar Infiane, “a rabbit warren of pretty courtyards and charming rooms”.

Beyond Tata lies scrubby desert, punctuated only by “the odd miraculous acacia tree”. At Tissint there is a French-run desert camp, where the only sound is the wind. To the south lies the village of Icht, from which you can drive into the Sahara “to marvel at the vastness and geological weirdness”. There are sand dunes and hills like “lemon-meringue pies, whipped into peaks”, and, among them, granite boulders bearing 5,000-year-old carvings of rhino, giraffe and antelope – “long since moved on”. Under a “huge” moon at sunset, you “might as well be on Mars” in this “otherworldly, inhospitable red terrain”. With Naturally Morocco, a seven-day accompanied tour.

What we at Naturally Morocco add on reading Laura’s article

The Southern region is an excellent region to visit from September through to May, and you may wish to draw further guidance on options open to you from our sample itinerary 7.

You can read Laura’s full article here.